At the beginning of the pandemic, we found out which companies were unprepared for a catastrophic event. As the world slowly begins to reopen in the face of vaccinations, we are learning which companies that have soared during the pandemic have also lost discipline.
In the past two years, technology has rightly become more critical than ever to the services it provides to the average person, whether it’s empowering a fully distributed workforce or helping us access health services through a screen. It also became vulnerable. The growth of the pandemic era has always had one caveat: The tech companies that found a product-market fit and demand beyond their wildest dreams are the same tech companies that knew their win depended at least in part on a rare, once-in-a-lifetime a life event that would (hopefully) disappear one day.
Every round of growth, mega valuation, impressive IPO pop and totally approachable market bump gave the semblance of strength amid the crisis. But the same tailwind that drove so much value creation also calmed money-saving talks and made plans for a future slowdown.
Still, a reckoning, or at least a re-correction, is starting to play out, as evidenced by recent news from Peloton and Hopin.
Fitness hardware company Peloton, which went public in September 2019, announced this week that it has laid off 2,800 people, a cut that also came when CEO John Foley resigned from his position. I haven’t seen any layoffs of that magnitude since Airbnb laid off 25% of its staff at the start of the pandemic, citing declines in revenue due to travel bans and COVID-19 concerns. In Peloton’s case, however, the layoff is less of a response to a pandemic shock and more of deflation following a surge in pandemic-fueled demand.